Platte County probably didn’t need senior Swiss Army knife Mary Grace Hunter nor athletic middle hitter Tatianna Murray, but they welcomed them back just the same. Both players returned from some time away with injury in the Pirates’ 25-2, 25-6, 25-7 demolition of Ruskin on Thursday in Kansas City.
Hunter contributed seven kills, six service aces and two digs in a typical well-rounded performance, while Murray had three kills without many opportunities to defend at the net.
Platte County (17-7) didn’t lose while Hunter and Murray were out, and the win over Ruskin increased the Pirates’ winning streak in Suburban Conference Blue Division play to 35 straight. They are 6-0 in league play this year, having swept all six, and are now halfway to a third straight unbeaten conference title.
Against Ruskin, Platte County junior Karsyn Stehlik led the attack with 10 kills, having taken on an increased role in the attack while Hunter was out. Pirates sophomore middle hitter Kendall Johnson, another player taking on more responsibility, added seven kills, while senior Kate Brown finished with six.
Platte County recorded 25 service aces total with Brown leading the way at seven followed by Hunter and then seniors Morgan Cox and Emerson Walter with five apiece. Cox, the starting libero, recorded a match-high 10 digs, while Walter dished out 31 assists for the Pirates.
Platte County takes a brief break from Blue Division play this week with a home match vs. St. Pius X on Monday and a road trip to Pembroke Hill on Wednesday. The Pirates then travel to Grandview on Thursday with a chance to extend the conference winning streak.
Platte County 3, Raytown South 0
The Pirates picked up a quick Blue Division sweep Tuesday night at Platte County High School.
Platte County sophomore Jenna Wheeler recorded a match-high eight kills, and Johnson added seven in a 25-11, 25-7, 25-12 victory. Brown and junior Madison Hoyt contributed five more apiece, while the Pirates rolled up 18 service aces. Brown led the way with five, while Cox (four), sophomore Ava Wheeler (three), Walter (two), Stehlik (two) and Johnson (two) accounted for the remainder.
Brown (11) and Cox (nine) led Platte County’s defense in digs.
Entering Saturday, Platte County had only lost this season in tournament play, but they hadn’t lost in the Winnetonka Invitational since the 2018 title match. The Pirates still haven’t after going 6-0 and sweeping Raymore-Peculiar for the championship at Winnetonka High School.
In fact, Platte County swept all six matches, including bracket matches with St. Pius X and Park Hill. The Pirates did all of this with Hunter and Murray unavailable due to injuries.
Platte County has now won the Winnetonka Invitational the past three years, and for the first time in that stretch didn’t have a two-set tie during pool play.
Johnson put up a team-high 10 kills, and Ava Wheeler had both of Platte County’s service aces and a team-high nine digs for the Pirates in a 25-8, 25-20 victory over Barstow. The momentum carried over to a tidy 25-16, 25-14 win over St. Joseph Central with Brown (seven kills), Stehlik (six kills) and Johnson (four kills) leading the Platte County offense, and the Pirates had five aces. Brown, Cox and Ava Wheeler recorded eight digs apiece.
Platte County closed out pool play with its most dominant win of the tournament, a 25-10, 25-7 blowout of Fort Osage. The Pirates had just 14 kills total, but Stehlik and Cox served up four aces apiece to account for eight of their nine.
Moving to bracket play, Platte County drew Class 4 St. Pius X in the quarterfinals. The Warriors provided an early challenge but didn’t recover after a tight first set.
Platte County pulled away for a 30-28, 25-16 victory behind Brown’s match-high 12 kills, while Johnson and Jenna Wheeler added five apiece. The Pirates’ defense excelled with junior Madison Hoyt and Johnson putting up a pair of blocks apiece, while Walter notched 10 digs.
In the semifinals, Platte County ran into a familiar and potentially daunting challenge. The Pirates earned a rematch with Park Hill, which lost in three sets that were ultimately very tight in the teams’ first matchup this season.
Even minus two starters, Platte County didn’t miss a beat in a 25-20, 25-19 victory. The Pirates were balanced with Stehlik (six kills), Johnson (five kills), Brown (four kills), Jenna Wheeler (four kills) and Hoyt (three kills) forming an extremely balanced offense. Brown and Jenna Wheeler added two service aces apiece.
Raymore-Peculiar then knocked off Grain Valley to reach the title game.
Platte County blew past the Panthers for a convincing 25-14, 25-12 victory to close the busy day. Brown took control of the match with 11 kills and a team-highs of three aces and nine digs, while Stehlik added six kills.
Walter had 24 assists in the championship match for Platte County, and that matched her tournament-high for the tournament. She also recorded 24 against Barstow and finished with 114 total on the day.